Benchmarks to reopen Kentucky's economy

Posted at 11:35 AM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:54:09-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear says President Trump's new "Opening Up America" guidelines are very much in line with Kentucky's own plan aimed at reopening the economy.

The governor and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack released seven benchmarks the state is looking for.

-Number and rate of new cases
-Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
-Personal Protective Equipment availability
-Ability to protect at risk populations
-Ability to social distance and follow CDC guidelines on large gatherings
-Preparedness for possible future spike
-Status of a vaccine and treatment

Now, the question on everyone's minds: when will we get back to normal? What does normal even look like?

Beshear made it clear it'll be different, and he won't lift restrictions until we see a downward slope in the number of cases over 14 straight days.

Our testing capacity needs to ramp up. Beshear says Kentucky is at a slight disadvantage because we don't have a national lab in our backyard.

But with the help of entrepreneurs and universities, things have improved..

"Again, as we increase those contacts, as we reopen the economy, we need to be able to test a lot of people to make sure that we can step in and intercede," said Beshear.

The third benchmark is the availability of PPE. Beshear announced on Friday the state recently received about 80,000 N95 masks from FEMA.

"One is we have to keep the healthcare workers who are treating patients safe. I think we have an ethical obligation to do the best we can to keep them safe, but we also have an ethical obligation to keep you the patient safe. So if you go into the hospital to have a simple procedure, you should not leave with the coronavirus," said Beshear.

Dr. Stack also stressed we need to better support the vulnerable, which is the fourth benchmark.

Then there's the ability to social distance and follow CDC guidelines. Businesses that reopen have to show they can comply to the fifth benchmark. So our new normal could mean no large sporting events.

The final two benchmarks are having the healthcare capacity so we're prepared to deal with a potential future spike, and the status of a vaccine. Dr. Stack said we probably won't see a vaccine until at least 2021, but the closer we are to a vaccine means the closer we can return to life as we knew it.

"I mean that could change the world, in a moment, and we're certainly encouraged and want someone to get there as quickly as possible. And that's how we get back to something more resembling our old normal, than just living in our new normal," said Beshear.